Significance of the Cabin
Theodore Roosevelt came west to hunt bison. His two week hunting trip included many long conversations with local ranchers. Enamored with a lifestyle he knew more from second-hand than direct experience, he invested in his own ranch. He little expected the significance this place would hold for him and the nation.
After losing first his mother and then his wife on a single day in February 1884, Dakota became a place where Roosevelt could heal and move forward with his life. His days were spent riding alone through the wilderness, a spiritual storyline as old as human history. He would exhaust his body physically, riding, hunting, roping and ranching. He would write three books about his experiences in the west. In time, Roosevelt returned to society, resumed his public service career, and established a family.
While Roosevelt ranched in Dakota, he saw widespread land use transform into misuse and abuse of natural resources. He established a regional stockmen's association and helped form the Boone and Crockett Club, one of the first fair-hunting organizations. A stalwart proponent of American resources and the bounty they provided, he feared that unregulated use would deplete those resources forever.
As Governor of New York and President of the United States, Roosevelt made conservation a primary focus. Under his presidency (1901 - 1909), nearly 230 million acres were protected in the form of national forests, parks, monuments and reserves. This conservation legacy established a precedent for the 1900s and beyond. Today there are thousands of protected lands throughout the country.
The National Park Service was created in 1916, three years before Roosevelt's death. The agency took over management of many of the areas set aside by the former president. Theodore Roosevelt National Park was created to honor the legacy he left behind. It is one of the many protected areas established in the first 100 years of the National Park Service. As we look forward to the next 100, we remember the example set by men like Theodore Roosevelt, and the simple places like the Maltese Cross Cabin which helped inspire them.